"Mom, there's an active shooter in school"

in #education2 years ago (edited)

The day my son was in a school shooting.

The April day began as any other. John left for his High School, and I sat his brothers down for their homeschooling. They became immersed in their studies and I went upstairs to take care of a few things.

A little over two hours later my phone rang. It was John. I sighed internally, hoping he wasn't injured again and a hospital visit was in my days forecast. He is a very athletic guy, and as such receives a hospital worthy injury every few months.

I answered my phone, while trying to think which purse held his insurance card.

"Mom?" he whispered. There was a strange tone in his whisper.

"Son? You ok?"

"There's an active shooter, Mom."

Those words.

Were enough to stop my heart.

I knew my jokester son was not messing with me, not about this.

He proceeded to tell me he had been walking with his girlfriend between classes and heard the shots. He grabbed her and rushed into the nearest open classroom, and quickly gathered as many students running by as he could before the principal announced the active shooter on the loudspeaker. He then quickly closed the door then had a couple other big guys help him move the heavy science table to barricade the door. He motioned for the students to lie low and be silent. He sat against the wall and called me.

Then he said "I love you Mom."

As I write this now, two and a half years later, my pulse is racing and I have to keep stopping to dry my eyes. There are truly no words to describe what I felt. It was surreal and terrifying.

My younger boys sensed something and I told them, I couldn't not. John was on the phone and I could hear this eerily deafening silence when we weren't speaking. Not the normal hum of school.

The police had been called, and it was already on CNN.

SWAT was surrounding the building.

After a bit, John said there were some kids who's phones didn't have a signal who wanted to call their Moms. I desperately wanted to keep him on the line but understood completely. We repeatedly said I love you's, then goodbye.

I held my other boys and we waited in silence. There were no words that could have been said.

We watched the news, waiting for more reports.

It was like a dream. There was no way this could be happening. Not to us. This kind of stuff never happens to you.

It felt like forever but John called me soon. He said they had announced the shooter has been apprehended and taken off the premises, but to remain in place while SWAT cleared the building.

My first reaction was not to trust this, and John caught my unspoken energy because he said that there was no way he and the other students barricaded behind that door were going to open it for anything.

A couple of hours later, parents were informed to go to the football fields and identify their children and themselves, so they could pick up their student.

There were still police and what appeared to be FBI agents in suits and shades milling about. The parents were distraught, rushing the field after frantically circling for parking on the busy streets.

I don't think I have ever hugged my son harder.

He explained he had been walking his girlfriend to her class when suddenly there was a loud POP. The halls quieted, whispers of what was that were heard. Then suddenly a second, louder and closer and definitely a gunshot.

Kids screamed and scattered. John yanked his girl into the nearest class and grabbed more running kids. He said he will never forget the looks on their faces. All wide eyed, some sobbing, all confused and pale and terrified.

He told me "Mom, all the times you taught me to be calm really helped. I didn't panic- I heard your voice in my head do not panic and I noticed everyone else was. And they were just running without even knowing where they were going."

There was an announcement over the intercom stating there was an active shooter in the school, that it was on lockdown, and to take cover. His hallway quickly cleared and he shut the door, pulled the blinds, switched the lights off, and then looked around.

He was in a science room. He instinctually needed to barricade the door so he motioned for a couple larger students to help move a heavy lab table against the door. The classroom looked out onto the parking lot. The few kids who had made it outside before the lockdown ran to their cars and raced away.

They all sat against the walls in small twos and threes. John noticed a jock holding a girl he would never have associated with outside of this incident. Everyone was crying, comforting or being comforted. They were looking around at each other, all children. Vulnerable. Scared.

The announcement that the shooter was apprehended and SWAT were checking the buildings did nothing to calm the atmosphere. John told me later that he imagined the shooter holding a gun to the principals head and forcing him to say that.

My son made SWAT verify their authority very well before allowing them in. They swept the room and asked if there was anyone but students in the room. Then they asked who had barricaded the door. John received proud commendations for his quick thinking and calm reactions.

The report was released before the 5 o'clock news. A student had suddenly started waving a handgun around in the commons, which scattered the kids. He walked up the stairway and fired a shot which ended up in the wall at the top of the stairs. That one was about 20 feet behind John. The next shot was only 15 feet.

That was when a teacher tackled the boy and wrestled the gun away from him. He was swiftly handcuffed by the SRO- School Resource Officer- a police officer who works with and in the school.

During interrogation, the boy admitted he took the pistol from his parent's with plans to scare the bullies who had been picking on him. He said he hadn't planned on shooting anyone, only scare the bullies. He had a history of mental illness.

Thankfully nobody had been shot. There were no hospital-worthy injuries. Therapists and counselors were brought in from surrounding areas for two weeks to help the children, staff, and community.

It is still very difficult to think about, even though after over two years it feels surreal... Like it didn't really happen to us. It's almost as if we had read it, or watched it on a movie. It does not feel like it happened to us, but the terrifying side effects remain.

It took me two days to write this.

John chose to be homeschooled after finishing out the remainder of the year.

The bullet holes remained in the stairwell for the rest of the school year.

Images via Creative Commons and Unsplash

I appreciate your support ❤

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I hope that security has been upgraded so as to prevent such incidents. X-rays are now being used at airports and subway stations. What about schools?

They are doing that at many schools.

I know John's school was renovated completely after this

Sounds to me like you've brought up your son very well. Staying calm when shit is going down isn't as easy as people think, the natural instinct of many is to panic. Thankfully it ended well. Well done babe for being such a good mother ❤️

Thank you hun.

Now, my youngest boy, he panics. I have tried everything, haven't found the correct words to get thru to him. But, as with anything- it's a work in progress :)

This actually brought tears to my eyes. I used to be a teacher and I can't imagine being a teacher, student or parent in this situation. How scary! It sounds like your son did a great job of keeping calm and using his head. Nice that they had an SRO - a lot of schools are now "sharing" one because of budget cuts - at least they were in the part of Texas we lived in. So the SRO would be at one school one day and another the next, or spend part of the day at one and then move to another. So crazy. I'm glad all the students and teachers were safe. So crazy that they left the bullet holes for the rest of the year! Thanks for taking the time to post this - I'm sure it was difficult to relive it all.

There are many schools here in WA State that have cut out the school counselors! How insane is that? School is stressful for most kids.

Where I am we have an SRO in every school.

Here's a frightening fact for you: The 4th grade MAP scores determine where the government funds go- to build more universities or to build more prisons...

Oh wow! That is totally crazy that the test scores decide which to build!! And in 4th grade?? They've already determined that the kids will either be smart enough to go to college or head toward prison. Scary! Sounds like self-fulfilling prophecy there for the state. Yikes.

Sounds like self-fulfilling prophecy there for the state. Right?

Whaaaat?! I didn't know that.

Yea. True story. I wish it wasn't, and to be honest I still find it surreal, but it happened.

Wow, what a story!

If I were in that situation, locked in the science class-room with the door baricated, I would be wishing I had an equal weapon do defend myself and others. What an unfair fight. A teacher tackled him armed with nothing but... his arms!

Thankfully it was an isolated shooter without intent of harm. There are other incidents that are not that way. @ironshield

The community made the teacher out to be a hero. Being a quiet and reserved, yet always happy kind of fella, he was uncomfortable with that. He said he only reacted on instinct and did what anyone else would have done.

I understand the humble part, I truly do, but he is a hero in many people's eyes.

This is one of the things I fear every day my kids leave my house to go anywhere. Your son is a brave young man. Mama to mama, I send you hugs.

Thank you my beautiful friend, hugs back <3

So true. It is a scary world out there and that doesn't just apply to schools...or even only schools in the US. Your last line is a sweet response. :)

How awfully terrifying as a parent and those students. Your son was very brave and smart. Awesome job raising your children! I'v very sorry you both had to go through that but am very happy it turned out ok and no one was injured.

Thank you <3 That means a lot.

Yeah, I have never felt those feeling before or since. It's a different kind of fear...

OMG I stopped breathing as I read. I am so happy everyone was okay, considering the situation.
Living in Israel, you get numb to it. There was a "suspicious object" at a bus station nearby a few weeks back. Someone left a backpack. Street was evacuated and the bomb squad had a robot "disarm" it. It's a regular thing. We don't even bother to stop and look anymore. Just walk around the barricade.
I've had friends die in terror acts. It's horrifying to realize how much violence and pain and hate there is in the world.
Here, a cyberhug

There was a backpack left on my train last year. We were stuck in a tunnel for hours. Couldn't even be evacuated. No bathrooms. Until the bomb squad finally found it was schoolbooks...

This happens here on a weekly basis. We're practiced at it. Also, there can't be a "suspicious object" on the train as all baggage is xrayed. Knowing this, a terrorist tried to get into the train station in my town. He beeped in the metal detector. The security guard stopped him physically, realizing something was off, and then the terrorist went "boom".
They renamed the station after said security guard.
I heard the boom from home, about 2 kilometers away.
Why is the world like this? :(

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that is really horrible experience! Hope that no parent would go through this trauma.

I agree. Noone should have to. Non treatment of mental health has grown out of control

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That gun should have been locked up with trigger locks in a safe. Your kid has mental problems you don't leave a gun accessible. I don't want to lecture anyone but the words "safe storage" don't come up enough.

Oh I agree. From what I remember, I believe the shooter's parents did have their firearms locked up. But obviously not well enough.

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I'm so glad that nothing happened. Good to hear that John is ok. What happened to the shooter after that?

He was placed in protective custody with heavy mental health attention. Because he was a minor they couldn't release much information.

No parent should have to go through this. If I had to raise children in the US i would choose to have them homeschooled as well.

It truly was one of the most frightening events in my life.

I commend parents who homeschool. Not everyone can. And it is a lot of work. But as the education system continues to worsen, I believe it is the only answer.

do not panic
A simple word, but it has a lot of effect.
I hope your son has a great future.

You are so correct. That, right there, made me grateful I had pressed the importance of not panicking.

Thank you so much

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There is need to check the security of our kids' school before enrolling them, although no where is secure, but it makes parents relax. Thanks for the training you gave John and as a boy he saved his classmates. Many would have ran out, not knowing if it was the direction of the shooter.

I believe in giving children the tools and knowledge to be prepared for situations. So much is not taught in school, like really real world things, living, etc, that it's up to us.

Nowhere is secure anymore. We cannot live being scared to go places. We must be prepared to alleviate fear. Fear is unhealthy.

I salute those parents who can do homeschooling.

It is very difficult, but worth it.

oh lord have mercy!!! i can only imagine how that must have felt... damn i mean it will just keep feeling like a dream...i am so glad your boy wasnt hurt and he was able to help others too

OMG! That would freak me out too. It used to be that school was a safe place to be. BTW... I miss you sweet kitty!

Hello sweet Karen! <3

Wow that must have been so hard to write. A very moving account and so glad no one was killed. May don't end like this. Thanks for sharing and great to hear all your boys are well and being homeschooled could not have been a better end :)

It was very difficult to write, but strangely the second day was a bit easier. I believe the writing was healing.

Thank you

Your right some my recent posts such as the one about the UK benefit system really healed my anger of how we were treated

I was writing THIS as you were typing that ^ !!!

Wow - this gave me goosebumps - so emotional - Nobody must go through something like this

Whew... That was intense! John handled the situation like a pro. Luckily there were no casualties there.

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Reading about this truly rattled me. Terrifying and surreal...

I think I have PTSD from that. In fact, I'm pretty sure I do. There's nothing like being helpless when your child is in mortal danger...

I can't even begin to imagine what something like that would feel like. I would expect that all the children and parents would have that too. I hope you and everybody else involved got or are getting the counseling you need.

Oh absolutely. This is not something to push aside.

America does need to ban gun.

Part of your sentence is missing my friend...

missing by the blockchain, now I updated it.

I figured that is what happened :)

It's not as simple as that. Just because something is illegal, does not mean the criminals won't use it.

I cannot even imagine how scary that must have been! No words. thank you for writing this!
And mental health issues not being addressed, bullying and readily available guns are all a problem.

The combination makes for a volatile environment, for sure

Just noticed this from your list of links. (I like that. May have to do it too!) This stops my heart. It is every parent's worst nightmare. And now I fear it is everyone's nightmare, and it's only a matter of time before we can't safely go to any location where there is a crowd. But I refuse to live in fear.

We must not live in fear. Diligence and being prepared is (unfortunately) necessary, and keep fear at bay. You only have one life that you know of. Fear is not the environment in which to live it <3